My father was always obsessed with outward appearance. If you do not look well presented, people will not respect you. Something he often said and perhaps there is a level of truth in that. But he would always take this to an extreme. It wasn’t really about aesthetics, more so about how he was perceived, how I was perceived and whether I was bringing any shame on him.
Money was incredibly important to him. Not only did he use it to control people but he enjoyed the way having a lot of it made him feel. He didn’t descend from a wealthy family, instead he worked hard to get a good job and provide for us. Well that’s what my mother initially thought.
His income was high as we grew up and we did enjoy what seemed to be a comfortable lifestyle. We lived in a large house in a nice part of North London. We had a good car (later he had a company car, something else to show off). We went on holidays, sometimes in the U.K and occasionally abroad, often travelling around Europe. Life appeared to be good.
He liked to spend his money on what people could see. The inside of our house was quite basic growing up. He rarely updated furniture, only getting a new kitchen when an extension was done. We had the same T.V for years and a tatty sofa set that was worn out. The inside of the house fell under my mother’s responsibilities as something she should keep looking nice, it wasn’t up to him in his eyes.
Friends of the family would comment on what a smart man he looked. He became very respected just by dressing well and clearly having the means to live a more decadent life. I did become caught up in the money whirlwind. Throughout the divorce it was thrown at me and as a child he’d give me whatever I asked for. As a teenager I loved it and used it. My mother and my sister labelled me materialistic too. But those few hours spent roaming the shops until I returned home to the screams of my parents was my only peace.